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I once was lost (in Middle Earth)

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Third Age (TA)

  • 2 death of Isildur, the ring is lost
  • 130 birth of Elladan, Elrohir
  • 241 birth of Arwen
  • 2746 birth of Thorin
  • 2770 Smaug captures the Erebor
  • 2859 birth of Fili
  • 2864 birth of Kili
  • 2931 birth of Aragorn
  • 10.10 2941 battle of the five armies (Thorin, Fíli and Kíli die)
  • 2948 birth of Théoden
  • 2968 birth of Frodo
  • 2978 birth of: Théodred, Boromir /Death of: Elfhilf (wife of Théoden, during childbirth)
  • 2980 Arwen pledges her hand in marriage to Aragorn
  • 2983 birth of: Faramir
  • 2991 birth of: Éomer
  • 2995 birth of: Éowyn
  • 3002 death of Éomund (slain in battle) and Théodwyn (illness) (Éomer’s and Éowyn’s parents)
  • 2.3019 Théodred dies at the fords of Isen
  • 2.3019 Boromir dies near the Parth Galen
  • 3+4.3.3019 Battle at Helms Deep /Haldir dies (movie)
  • 3.3019 Faramir is hurt
  • 3.3019 Battle at the Pelennor Fields / Éowyn is hurt while killing the Witchking / Théoden dies
  • 3.3019 End battle, the ring is destroyed
  • 05.3019 Aragorn is crowned king
  • Midyears day 3019 Aragorn marries Arwen
  • Summer 3019: Faramir marries Éowyn
  • 3021: Éomer marries Lothíriel

Chapter Text

Meduseld, 5. Mai 3006 TA
Éomer was wistfully looking down towards the stables from his position on one of the many patios in front of Meduseld halls. How he wished he could sneak down there and take Firefoot out for a long ride. Instead, he was forced to take part in Grimbold’s wedding. With fifteen Éomer found this kind of gathering boring. He neither liked the fancy clothes he was forced to wear nor all the unfamiliar people who tried to rope him into a talk. He especially detested the over ambiguous mothers who pushed their equally annoying daughters at him in hopes of catching his eyes.


Gold diggers, his cousin Théodred called them. Éomer shuddered when he thought of their overly sweet perfumes, painted faces and high pitched fake laughs. Why any man would want to marry at all was a riddle to him.


A soft giggling ripped him from his musings. It was too soft and genuine to belong to one of the annoying females from the feast. Instead he noticed a small girl, of maybe four or five years, rushing down the stairs cases towards him. A mob of blond curly hair was swishing around her head, as she looked behind her without stopping in her movement.


“Halétha!”


The girl -Halétha, hurried down the last steps and looked around, obviously searching for a good hiding place without noticing his presence. Pressing a hand to her mouth to smother her giggling, she finally found a place beside the stairs.


“Halétha!” This time the voice sounded nearer and Éomer believed to recognise it as that of Erkenbrand, Lord of the Westfold.


Without knowing why Éomer stepped out of his hiding place, that was mainly formed by the darkening sky, towards the steps. The little blonde gasped in shocked surprise, her eyes going wide when she realised that he could easily reveal her hide-out. Instead he positioned himself in such a way, that her small body was completely hidden from everyone that simply stood on the stairs and winked at her. Her big blue eyes got even wider before she presented him with a big toothy smile and pushed herself even further against the stone. Only a few seconds later, Lord Erkenbrand appeared on the steps and came to a sudden halt when he recognised the king’s nephew.


“Lord Éomer,” he greeted with a short bow. “I am sorry to disturb you, I am looking for my daughter. Maybe you have seen her? About this high,” Erkenbrand showed him her height with his hands. “Blonde hair, blue dress?”


He resisted the urge to look at the little trouble maker and shook his head. “I am sorry Lord Erkenbrand, I fear I cannot help you. Maybe she is with the other females, dancing and showing of her dress?”


Erkenbrand snorted at that and shook his head. “You don’t know my daughter, my Lord. She would rather jump in the mud and groom her pony than take dancing lessons or god forbid learn embroidery. My wife had a hard time putting her in that dress, if she gets it ripped and dirty it will be me that she will blame!” Though his voice was stern, Éomer could see the grin that wanted to form on his lips. Apparently, he agreed more with his daughter than with his wife.


“Sounds like a trouble maker!”


“You have no idea! If you would excuse me, I should find her before my wife notice her absence!” And with a last bow, Lord Erkenbrand hurried away.
After a few moments, he finally stepped back and looked at the girl. “I think it’s safe for you to come out now.” Grinning brightly, she pushed up against the wall and got to her feet.


“Are you hiding here too?” She asked and turned that striking blue eyes directly at him. Éomer guessed that her father had a hard time to say no to her, whenever she looked at him.


Grinning he nodded at her. “Yes, I am. I don’t like weddings very much.”


She shrugged and plucked at the sleeve of her dress. “I like the food and the music, but I don’t like to dress up. The robe is itchy and the skirt is always getting in my way!” His grin widened. “At my wedding, I will be wearing a tunic and my riding pants! And it will be in the stable, so Hulef can be there, too!” She declared dead serious and Éomer had a hard time not to laugh.


“Hulef?”


“He’s my pony!”


“Ah.”


“What do you think?”


Marring in his most comfortable and worn tunic on the back of Firefoot while the whole nobility of Rohan tried to squeeze themselves into the royal stables? Marriage never sounded so good to him.


“I think that it sounds like a good plan, however I’m not sure I would find a Lady that would go along with it!” His mind wandered to all the dressed up, perfect mannered females inside the Golden Hall and tried to imagine any of them in a casual dress up.


“You could always marry me!”


Laughing out loud he looked at the little spitfire beside him. He had not had such a good time in ages. “That is a little forward of you, don’t you think, my Lady. I do not even know your name!”


“My name is Halétha of Westfold, daughter of Erkenbrand!” She told him in a practiced formal voice and even ended it with a light curtsey.


“Éomer of Rohan, son of Éomund, at your service, my Lady!” With a big grin on his face he bowed deep and offered her his arm to escort her back inside. With her on his side, the rest of the evening would not be dull. He was certain of it.


 

Meduseld, 15 June 3021 TA
Éomer had some kind of déjà vu when he noticed the slender silhouette of a woman rushing down the stair cases to the patio he had selected to hide for a while. Instead of girlish giggling she was cursing like a sailor and trying not to trip over the hem of her dress. The mob of curly blond hair was nearly the same, just longer and flooded down her back. With unmatched determination, she jumped down the last steps, but unlike the last time she was too tall to hide beside the stone step.


“Halétha!”


It took Éomer a moment to realise that it could not be Erkenbrand, who was chasing behind her as he died two years ago, during the battle at the Isen. Without his sacrifice, things would have ended very different and they would not be celebrating Théodred’s wedding to Imrahil’s daughter today.


With panic in her eyes Halétha seemed to realise her unfortunate situation and looked around. When she noticed him, her look of confused surprise was likely mirrored on his own face.


“Please, hide me!” She whispered desperately and those impossible blue eyes had him moving before he realised it. Within seconds he was standing beside her and told her to get down, so he could put his cloak atop her. Not one moment later, a man he had never seen before appeared at the top of the stairs.

Apparently, the stranger knew who he was, as he abruptly came to a stop and bowed deeply.


“Lord Éomer, what a surprise.”


“Do I know you?”


“Galen, my Lord. I am looking for Lady Halétha, you would not have seen her, do you?”


“As a matter of fact, I have!” The Lady in question pinched him very unladylike and he had a hard time not to jump.


“You have?”


“Indeed, she and my sister just passed by. Éowyn wanted to show her our newest mearas foal.”


“The stables,” the other man sniffed in clear disapproval. “Why am I not surprised.”


“Pompous idiot!” Halétha hissed in a low voice and Éomer agreed with her.


“Is there something else, I can do for you?” Galen seemed to realise that he was dismissed and left with a quick bow.


“You can come out now!” With a quick move, he pulled the cloak away and looked down at the pretty young woman at his feet. “Why is it that you are always trying to hide, when I meet you?”


Halétha grinned cheekily at him and took the offered hand to pull her up. “I could ask you the same thing, my Lord.”


“Was that your fiancée?” Snorting she shook her head no and he felt something like relief inside his chest.


“Well he does not look like the type that would marry in a tunic inside the stables!” Éomer commented dryly.


“I have yet to find man who would go along with it!” Halétha huffed and looked as if she meant it.


“Well, you could always marry me!” He blurted out.


For a moment those blue eyes nearly popped out of her head, before she started to laugh. “Indeed, I could!” She nodded and linked her hand with his arm, like he offered. “I hear the stables are nice, this time of the year. Tell me more about that mearas foal.”


“I’m at your service my Lady!” With a grin on his face he guided her back. With her on his side, life would never be dull. He was certain of it.

Chapter Text

Erebor, 12. March 2943 TA

 

“No!”

 

“But Thorin…”

 

“No!”

 

“My Lord you…”

 

“I said no!”

 

With one last angry look at his advisers he stormed, well limped, out of the throne hall like a petulant child not like the king he claimed to be.

 

It was two years since the battle on the Lonely Mountain and though they won and reconquered their home, life here was not like anything he ever imagined. Sometimes he wished himself back on the road, where he had two functioning legs and most of all two living nephews. Instead he was a cripple of a king who could not bear to look at his sister’s face out of shame. Gritting his teeth against the pain in his left leg he slowed down his pace towards the big gate. Five minutes later he had left the inside of the mountain and was on his way towards the rebuilding city.

 

He was dressed much too lightly for this time of the year. Without his thick fur covered coat, the cold march air hit him like a hammer but he ignored it. He also ignored the gaping crowed that was not used to see their king, limping through their city on his own. Or seeing him at all these days. He avoided the cowed whenever possible. He had no idea what possessed him to wander down the streets, he just needed to get away from his advisors. The horde of dwarfs that that always claimed to know what was best for him. This time their advice was to take a wife!

 

“You need an heir, my Lord!”

 

Fili’s and Kili’s face hunted his thoughts and by Mahal, he wished he could put his fist right into that stupid dwarf’s face. How dare he, to remind him of his failure? Thorin knew it was his fault, that his nephews were dead! Had he not fallen to the gold sickness, things would have turned out different. His weakness had killed them and with them all possible heirs to the throne.

 

Had it not been for Bilbo and that pointy eared bastard, he would be dead too. Instead he survived with some heavy scars and a limp leg. In his most private moments, Thorin regretted that he was not buried beside them. But that was a selfish thought.

 

His people had waited years to reclaim their birth right and he was their king. It was his duty to look out for them and their safety. There was no place for personal feelings. He knew that and he knew that his advisors were right when they told him it was time for him to find a Queen. What troubled him, beside the constant remainder of his nephews, was that they already had a list with promising candidates! Like he was some stud horse that was only supposed to breed with a mare with the perfect pedigree.

 

He knew some of those Ladies on that list. As females were outnumbered in their race and therefore treated like a rare treasure, most dwarfish women tended to be snobbish and self-centred. They could choose from a big pool of suitors and were not short on options. The higher on the social ladder they were, the more unbearable he found them. During his time as an outcast, not one of those ladies would have spared him a glance. He might have been the heir to Erebors throne, but he was a king without a mountain and without gold.

 

Now that he had reclaimed the mountain with all the treasures inside, each of those darrowdams nearly fell over their own feet to gain his attention. Kindly overlooking his physical imperfection, he thought bitterly.

 

Suddenly a mouth-watering smell reached his nose and interrupted his gloomy thoughts. Looking around he noticed with astonishment that he had nearly reached the centre of the small city without realising it. Following the heavenly scent, he came to a stop in front of a small bakery and took a deep breath.

 

Cinnamon rolls. He had not eaten one of those since … Thorin could not even remember the last time he had one of those. Before he knew what, he was doing, he stepped inside the small, comfortable warm room and nearly moaned with the overwhelming smell that hit him. He wondered, why the shop was not overrun with customers but realised that it was after midday where most shops tended to be closed for an hour or two.

 

Realising his mistake, he wanted to turn around but a warm voice told him to wait and that she would be there shortly. Hesitantly Thorin remained where he was -his desire for one of those cinnamon rolls to great and looked around.

 

The shop was small, more a hole in the wall with just enough space for a counter and a bit of room for the waiting customers with two small tables and a few chairs. He guessed the door on the other side led to the actual baking room where the oven was located the goods were prepared.

 

A minute later a small darrowdam -petite really- for dwarwish standards came through the door and looked at him with a warm friendly smile, that wobbled slightly when she realised who had stepped into her shop.

 

“Tho- …My Lord…what…what can I do for you?” She asked clearly surprised to find her king inside her bakery, dressed awfully wrong for the weather outside and looking utterly out of space.

 

Thorin registered the nearly slip of his name and tried to remember if he knew her from before. It would not be the first time that he forgot a face or a name. Something about her looked familiar but he was sure he would remember someone like her. With her delicate figure and nearly white blond hair she was not exactly a common sight among his people. Tall and full figured with thick earthy coloured hair was considered beautiful among the females of his race. Furthermore, he noticed a thick scar from the left side of her cheek down towards her collarbone.

 

Physical imperfect -just like himself he thought. He must have starred at her and make her uncomfortable as she started to squirm nervously on the spot and tried to cover her scar more firmly with the strands of her hair. Clearing his throat, he tried to focus.

 

“Forgive me, my Lady. I walked along the street and was captured by the mouth-watering scent. You would not have finished one of those cinnamon rolls already?”

 

From one moment to the next her features relaxed and she grinned brightly at him. “Of course, your majesty. Why don’t you take a seat? I will bring you some.”

 

Five minutes later he was biting into the sweetest, most-tasty bakery good he had ever tasted and could not supress the blissful moan that left his mouth. He could feel his cheeks heating in embarrassment but the baker just laughed.

 

“I see you have not lost your sweet tooth!”

 

Again, the feeling of familiarity overwhelmed him.

 

“Do I know you?”

 

“You really do not remember?” Her green eyes grinned merrily at him. “I would be offended but it was a really long time ago. My name is Frára, we grew up together.”

 

“Frára,” he mumbled and was suddenly hit with a wave of long lost memories. Of course, he remembered his childhood friend. Though it was more feelings than actual images. They had spent every free moment together and he had cried like a girl when she had left the Lonely Mountain with her family. He especially remembered the trashing his grandfather had given him when he saw him crying.

 

Durin’s do not cry. Especially not over a common girl. Do not forget your standing, Thorin! One day you will sit on my throne and I expect you to find a Queen who is worthy to sit beside you!

 

Worthy! Thorin snorted inwardly. What Thrór had meant was the right family. Both his father and grandfather had a political marriage and neither had found happiness with their spouse. After everything he had gone through, Thorin was not willing to sacrifice that last bit of his life as well. Looking fondly at the woman in front of him he nodded.

 

“I used to follow you around like a besotted puppy.” With interest, he noticed the blush that suddenly covered her cheeks and how she shyly avoided his eyes. For the first time in a long while Thorin could feel a smile forming on his lips.

 

“Tell me more about yourself, since when do you have this bakery?” He asked lightly before he leant back and took another bite of the formidable cinnamon roll. While he listened to her warm voice, his eyes wandered over her form; from her exotic hair, over the delicate structure of her face down to her small but well-proportioned form. Yes, he could understand why he had followed her around like a puppy as a lad, and realised, that he was not opposed to do it again.

 

Grinning he thought that he would need to increase his physical workout, given the sugary delicacies he intended to eat. Daily.

 

“Are you alright,” Frára asked suddenly.

 

“Yes,” he nodded and starred in her eyes. “Better than I have in a long time!”

Chapter Text

Somewhere along the Anduin, 26. April 3 FA

The noise of soft feet ripped Boromir out of his sleep. He was instantly ready for battle but he had learned a long time ago to remain motionless and wait for the right moment to react.

 

Old reflexes died hard, he thought.

 

The feet got nearer and hit against something on the floor.

 

“Psst, you are waking them up,” a childish voice whispered much too loudly and Boromir could feel a smile forming on his face as he realised what was going on.

 

“I can’t see in the dark, Faramir!” The soft voice of a girl answered with a whine.

 

“Hold onto my hand, I will lead you!”

 

A few seconds later the two trouble makers had reached the bed and were clumsily trying to get under the blankets. Boromir had a hard time to keep himself from laughing, but that would give himself away. His wife, Sahdí, had told those two to remain in their own beds for tonight and if he was awake, he would have to send them back. Instead he remained motionless while his two children made themselves comfortable. Little Faramir settled beside his wife and Mari beside him. Like always.

 

Papa’s little girl.

 

He felt her little body snuggle against his and allowed himself a sigh of content. While he could feel Mari’s body relax and her breathing even out, Boromir felt his own thoughts wandering. How had his life turned out like this? With a wife he was very much in love with and two great children?

 

Although the life he was living these days was quite the opposite from anything he had ever dreamed of, Boromir could not remember a time in his past where he had been so content and happy. His former self did not know true happiness, just conscientiousness, determination and the ever-present urge to please his father. His happiest memories were probably that of his childhood with his brother Faramir. The memory of his loved sibling still pained him. For a long time, Boromir had wanted to seek him out, but then he heard of his marriage to the Lady of Rohan and knew that his brother was taken care of. Faramir did not need him. Not anymore.

 

Closing his eyes, he thought back to that fateful day six years ago, on the grounds of Parth Galen, where his greed and mental weakness had nearly doomed everyone and everything he had sworn to protect. In the end, he had come to his senses and regained back his honour. His sacrifice had rescued the lives of his little Hobbit friends, at the price of his own. Or so he had thought. The last thing he remembered was talking to Aragorn and then only darkness. After that, his first memory was pain. His second, third and fourth memory was not much different. Sahdí later told him that it had taken over a week before he regained consciousness for more than a few seconds and even a week longer before she was sure that he would survive his serve wounds.

 

She had found his funeral boat on the banks of the Anduin and somehow, he was not as dead as everyone believed him to be. His wife was a skilled healer (and blessed with a bit of magic, he was sure!) but in secret Boromir had a hard time to believe that it was her talent alone that rescued him from death grasp. Maybe the Valar had bestowed him with a second chance for the sacrifice he had been willing to make in the end? He was not sure, but if that was true he nearly threw his chance away.

 

He had been an ungrateful bastard towards Sahdí in the beginning. Everything she did was wrong, not enough or not reaching his expectations. When he realised that his right leg would never completely heal from the arrow wound, leaving him with a heavy limp, he had screamed at her. The insults that had left his mouth, still filled him with shame and regret though Sahdí had long forgiven him. Like she had forgiven him anything else: His tactless comments, his self-pity and lack of gratitude as well as his ignorance towards her struggles.

 

A lone woman, living in the woods, fending for herself had not an easy life. A lone woman fending for herself and an ungrateful patient had an even harder life. Out of fear for his life she had not left his side, in the beginning and therefore no chance of earning money with her skills, beside selling a few herbs to villager’s brave enough to seek her out.

 

The reason for their healthy respect of his wife were Fuin and Dae, her two giant sized wolves. She had found them as orphaned pups and rescued them from certain death which they paid her back with an unmatched loyalty (which was not normal but maybe had something to do with her doormat magical skills).

 

Boromir had no doubt that they had demonstrated, quite bloodily, what happened to those who dared to lay a hand to their lady. He and those beasts had come to an agreement by now: He would treat her right and they in return would not maul him.

 

It had taken him some time to get over his self-pity and self-importance to finally see the person in front of him. The brave soul who had rescued him from certain death, sheltered and feed him, listened to all his complaints and soothed the sorrows he had about his brother and the Company he left behind.

 

It had taken him even longer to see the woman, but once he did he never looked away again. She had captured his heart and he was forever grateful that she reciprocated his feelings.

 

Sometimes he asked himself, how his life would have turned out if he had left and went back to Minas Tirith. By the time, he had healed completely, several months had gone bye. The ring had been destroyed and it would have been safe to travel home. Only that Minas Tirith no longer felt like home. Home was here with Sahdi and his children. A simple life but one filled with warmth and love.

 

“You are thinking too loud!” Sahdí’s voice interrupted his musings. Surprised he turned his head and looked at his wife, who grinned at him in the half-shadow of their bedroom.

 

“Since when are you awake?”

 

“Since a horde of little mûmakils tried to sneak into our bed!”

 

“Why did you not say anything?”

 

“And send them back?” She laughed softly. “Why didn’t you?”

 

“Same reason,” he confessed guiltily. With a soft chuckle, she snuggled into his arms and he kissed the top of her head.

 

“What troubles you, love?”

 

“No troubles, just thinking about how l came to be here, as a husband and father of two.”

 

“Three.”

 

“What?”

 

“The correct term would be: Husband and father of three.” Sahdí answered after a short moment of hesitation. Turning sharply toward her he starred into her eyes for a long moment and tried to order his thoughts.

 

“Really?” He asked with a stupid grin while his hand automatically reached for her belly, that was still flat and soft.

 

“It is still early, but I am sure. I wanted to wait a bit more before I tell you, but this seems like a good time. Are you happy?”

 

Surrounded by his children, with his hand spanned over her belly Boromir, former Steward of Gondor, kissed his wife in answer.

 

 

Fuin = Night

Dae = Shaddow

Chapter Text

Rivendell, 15. September 1763 S.A

 

Bell-like female giggling had him quickening his pace, but it was too late. A second later he was surrounded by three beautiful elleths who all smiled brightly at him.

Like of a pack of wolves baring their teeth to the helpless sheep he thought gloomily if not a little fearful, but tried his best to appear unaffected.

 

“Hello Glorfindel!” They chorused.

 

“Hello Ladies!” He answered politely while his eyes searched for an escape route.

 

“We are on the way to the lake,” the prettiest of the trio spoke up and fluttered her eyelashes at him. “And we wanted to ask if you would like to accompany us?”

 

“It is nice of you to ask, but…” Before he could continue his refusal another elleth, a red head, grasped his arm.

 

“We would really forever be grateful if you would watch out for us while we bath.”

 

“Yes,” a third, blonde this time, piped up and let her finger wander over his other arm. “Just image what could possibly happen to us on our own.”

 

Surrounded by the guards that patrolled the border, probably nothing!

 

“With a strong, experienced fighter we would feel much safer,” the pretty one added while she stepped awfully close to him. From the way, she pronounced experienced he knew she was talking about something else entirely. Hoping that the tips of his ears would not turn pink from embarrassment, he carefully freed himself from their grip and put a little distance between him and the trio.

 

“I’m sorry my Ladies, but I am afraid duty calls and I do not have the time to spend this afternoon in such a pleasant company. Lord Elrond is expecting me.” And with that he turned around and fled before they had another chance to encircle them.

 

He did not slow down before he had reached his chambers. With a sigh, he sunk down in the chair by the window and tried to think of a solution for his problem.

 

With his golden looks and godly powers that Manwë gifted him with after he send him back to Middle earth, Glorfindel was a well sought after elf.

 

The heroic twice-born Balrog slayer.

 

Since he had reached adulthood (for the second time in his existence) a lot of elleths purchased him. Some because of his looks, others because of his status and some for both reasons but he had always avoided female company. Unfortunately, he could not remember anything from his former life beside his fighting skills. And that was more like a natural born reflex than actual memories.

 

He had no idea, when it begun but one of the elleths he rejected out of shyness and inexperience, told her friends a varnished story about his skills as a lover who in turn told other elves. It did not take long before the whole of Rivendell knew what a wonderful, considerate and skilful lover he was. Over time more and more elleths joined the fictional ranks of his lovers and left him with an enormous problem.

 

He had not even kissed a female, let alone laid with one. How should he ever experience any of that, when every elleth thought he was some sort of heroic lothario? The reality would be a disappointing experience. In the end, he came to same solution as always, but this time decided to go through with it.


 

Avenduíl starred at him with an open mouth after he finished telling her about his request. From all the elleths he knew, she was the only one he ever felt completely comfortable with. They had been best friends since he came back into this world and were both part of the guards. If there was someone he could ask for help, it would be her.

 

“Are you making fun of me?”

 

“What? No!” He denied vehemently and starred at her with surprise. “Why would you think that?”

 

She opened her mouth as if to answer him but closed it again and took a deep breath. “Why don’t you take one of the elleths, that keep following you, up on her offer? I am sure at least one of them would love to help you out!”

 

“I already told you.” He nearly whined. “They all think of me as some sort of super talented lover. What would they think of me when they realise that it is all a lie?”

 

“And you expect me to turn you in that kind of super lover?” Now she sounded half amused half affronted.

 

“Well…” He had not thought that far ahead. Like every other skill, this one surely took some time to learn, regardless how good the teacher was. He could not expect to become perfect overnight. “No. I guess it takes time, but at least I would not feel the pressure to perform perfectly with you!”

 

The lines around her mouth turned sour and Glorfindel realised horrified that he chose his words poorly. “I did not mean…”

 

“Sure, you did not,” she interrupted before he could correct his words.

 

“Avenduíl, that’s not what…”

 

“Meet me here, after the evening meal. Don’t be late!” Without giving him another chance to respond she turned around and vanished between the trees.


 

Several months later:

 

Smiling softly Glorfindel starred at the sleeping elleth beside him. In many aspects Avenduíl was his complete opposite. Where his hair was light, like liquid gold, hers was darker than a starless night. His eyes were a vibrant blue, while hers were silver-grey. His skin always had a sun-kissed appearance to it, while Avenduíl’s could reveal that of fresh fallen snow.

 

Like night and day!

 

While his index finger slowly stroked over her soft skin Glorfindel realised how beautiful she was. Measured by elven standards she was no great beauty: Her nose was a little too long, her cheekbones not high enough, her mouth too full and her body too muscled but in his eyes, that only added to her appeal.

 

Over the last few months, he had finally begun to see Avenduíl the elleth not just the friend and follow guard. He liked what he saw, but was unsure how to proceed with his new-found knowledge. Their first few meetings had been awkward. He was shy, embarrassed and over excited and it had taken some time to calm his nerves and allow himself to simply feel. From that point on, things had changed and Glorfindel cherished every second he could spend in her company. These last few weeks he had tried to hint that maybe, they could be…more, but the more he pushed the more she kept her distance.

 

A change in her breathing pattern told him that she was awake, although she did not react to his stroking fingers or the kisses he pressed against her spine. “Why won’t you allow me to court you, formally?”

 

At his question, she stiffened in his arms and finally turned around to looked at him with astonished eyes. “Are you making fun of me?”

 

“What? No!” Frowning he looked at her. Somehow their conversation reminded him a little too much of the one they had all those months ago. “Why would you ask that?”

 

“Why would you want to court me?” She countered and he looked at her as if she had lost her mind. Did she really not realise?

 

“Because I love you!” Now she bestowed him with a look that clearly said he was insane.

 

“What? No! You cannot love me. That is impossible!”

 

“Why is that impossible?”

 

“Because you are…you! Golden-perfect-twice born-you! And I’m…I’m just…me!”

 

“I happen to like just you and you of all people should know, that I am far from being perfect. The fact that I am twice-born only makes it worse.”

 

“But, but…” she stuttered. “You came to me, because disappointing me would not matter and…”

 

“What?!” Horrified by her words he starred at her before he remembered his unfortunate words from before and closed his eyes in shame. All this time, had she thought that he came to her because she did not matter?

 

“Avenduíl, I came to you because you were the only living being I trusted enough with my embarrassing secret. I came to you because you are the only elleth I have ever been comfortable with and I wish to court you because I can’t imagine my life without you by my side.”

 

“You mean that?” She asked with a breathless smile and when he nodded she pressed a quick kiss to his lips before she jumped out of his bed. Before he could stop her, she was dressed and at the door.

 

“You can court me.” She told him with a wink. “You can start with escorting me to the evening meal. Don’t be late!”

Chapter Text

Edoras, 2. June 2307 TA

 

“I saw her first!” Éomer hissed at his cousin while he starred at the pretty red-haired girl that was grooming one of the horses.

 

“I’m older!” Théodred argued.

 

“What has that to do with anything?”

 

“I’m more experienced!” For a split-second insecurity flickered over Éomer’s features before he crossed his arms in front of him and snorted.

 

“I’m way better looking!”

 

“You wish!” His cousin laughed and turned around but before he could do more than one step, Éomer had grasped his arm. “What are you doing?”

 

“Getting acquainted with that red-head!”

 

“No!”

 

“Well…” Théodred seemed surprised about his resistance but was obviously not willing to step back. “Maybe we should let the Lady decide!”

 

“You mean between the future king of Rohan and his cousin?” Éomer’s expression turned sour. Théodred hesitated, realising that the girl would have no other choice than to pick him. His gaze turned suddenly mischief. “We could always share.”

 

Éomer’s eyes flicked back to the girl whose hair gleamed like fire in the hot summer sun and back to his cousin. If he wanted a chance at her, and he wanted that more than anything, he would have to go with it. “Alright!”


 

Crazy as it seemed she was alright with it too. Her name was Credwyn and she was in Edoras to visit her sister over the summer. It was the wildest, most exciting summer of Éomer’s entirely life and it turned even better when Théodred lost his interest in her after a few weeks. For the first time in his life, Éomer was head over heels in love. When summer turned into autumn and she had to go back to her family, it felt as if someone had ripped out his heart. From the bitter tears she cried against his chest he knew that Credwyn felt the same and somehow that made it a bit easier. On their last day together she cut a long strand of her hair and put it in a small velvet bag, which he wore around his neck. He in return bestowed her with a ring. He did not tell her that it was his mother’s ring, or the significance of that gesture. He never saw her again although he did look for her several times before he gave up.

 

Over the years, he dallied with quite a few women, though none of them could reach his heart. And while the sight of red gleaming hair never failed to capture his attention, he never took a lover who resembled her. It would only defile Credwyn’s memory and memories were all that was left of her.

 

During the last few years, he turned slightly hard and bitter. He ignored most offers that were made in his directions and focused solely on his duties as a Marshal of the Mark. With all the threads, battles and losses it was easy to forget for a while, just the small velvet back around his neck reminded him of his broken heart.


 

Edoras, Midsummers day 3021 TA

 

The wedding ceremony between Théodred and Lothíriel was no small affair and everyone of name and standing had arrived to take part in the event. Éomer had talked and clinked glasses with lots of people all evening and fulfilled his duty as Second Marschall of the Mark as well as it was expected of him. It was late when he finally found a few moments for himself. Absent minded his hand played with the velvet back around his neck while he looked at all the happy faces around him and tried not to grimace.

 

Théodred was dancing with his new wife who was smiling brightly at him, Queen Arwen was holding his little nephew Elboron in her arms and talking to his sister while Faramir was having a lively discussion with King Elessar and Lord Imrahil. Lord Hirluin was entertaining a group of besotted looking females and Lord Húrin was in some sort of drinking game with two of his captains. Regardless where he looked, everyone seemed happy and in high spirits.

 

He took a deep gulp of his mead and noticed his cousin walking in his direction.

 

“Éomer, you should come and dance with us,” Théodred exclaimed laughingly. “I am sure you will find a lot of females all too willing…”

 

“No,” Éomer interrupted him gruffly. “You know I don’t like to dance,” he tried to soften his outburst. Théodred starred at him silently, obviously not expecting to find him in such a bad mood, while everybody else was enjoying the feast. Éomer could feel his cousin’s eyes boring into him and regretted that he opened his mouth at all.

 

“You are still wearing it,” Théodred sounded surprised and for a moment Éomer had no idea what he was talking about, before he noticed his fingers playing with Credwyn’s gift.

 

“What of it?” He shrugged and pushed it under his tunic.

 

“You still think of her!”

 

“Don’t be stupid.”

 

“You do!” Théodred exclaimed and starred at him with wide opened eyes. “I knew you were fond of her but I did not realise that you...”

 

“That I what?”

 

“That you love her!”

 

“Do not talk about things you don’t understand!” Éomer huffed and tried to walk away but Théodred stopped him with a hand on his upper arm.

 

“I am sorry!” At first Éomer thought Théodred was pitying him but before he could tell him to keep his pity to himself, his cousin continued. “I really never realised how you felt about her, cousin. Had I known, I would have stepped back from the beginning.”

 

For a long moment Éomer just looked at him before he shrugged the hand off him. “It does not matter anymore!” Without another word, he walked away.


 

Edoras, 25 August 3021 TA

 

Éomer was just about to take Firefoot out for a ride, when he noticed a glimmer of red in the corner of his eyes. He turned his head to muster the woman on the other side of the stable for a second before he continued with saddling his horse. It was just a reflex these days: looking up, looking down and continue with his task. He expected nothing of it. This time though, his head flew up and around merely a second after he lowered it.

 

He blinked several times, but the view remained the same. There, not four meters away from him stood Credwyn, beside a smug looking Théodred who pushed her further down the stall alley. She was a bit older, taller and less carefree looking than he remembered, but before him stood the same beautiful woman who had haunted his dreams for the last fourteen years.

 

“Well,” Théodred piped up after a few minutes of silence and looked at them with an impatient frown. “After all the trouble, I went through to find her, you could at least talk to her, cousin!”

 

Éomer could feel a painful tightening in his chest that reminded him that he needed to breath. He wanted to say something, anything, but words had fleet his mind and he could simply stare at her like an idiot.

 

Théodred shook his head and turned towards Credwyn with deep sigh. “It seems that you have rendered him speechless, Cred. Do help the man out of his misery!” When neither made any attempts to speak or move Théodred cursed loudly. “By the Valar, you two better sort this out. I expect a ring on her finger when I come back, Éomer!” With those words, he turned around and stomped out of the stable, all the while muttering under his breath.

 

Finally, Credwyn decided to listen to Théodred’s advice and took the initiative. She stepped nearer until she was just an armlength away and he hungrily took in every detail: her slender figure, her beautiful hair, the small scar on the left side of her cheek that had not been there before, her vibrant green eyes, her slightly crooked nose and full lips. But most of all he registered his mother’s ring around her neck and he finally found his voice again.

 

“You are still wearing it.”

 

“I never took it off.”

 

“Me neither,” he admitted with a hoarse voice and showed her the velvet back. With hesitating slowness, she reached out for it and Éomer was quick to enfold her fingers in his much larger hand. Without thinking about it, he pressed the inside of her hand to his mouth and kissed it.

 

“I thought you forgot about me,” Credwyn’s voice was shaking with supressed emotions.

 

“How could I?” he shook his head in denial and added like a sappy fool: “When you left, you took my heart!”

 

A choked laugh left her and she pressed her free hand against his chest. “That is only fair as you held mine for all this years as well.”

 

“Do you want it back?”

 

“No, you already had it for such a long time, you might keep it if you promise to be careful with it.”

 

Éomer grinned stupidly at her and felt a lightness in his chest he hadn’t felt in many years. “I will do my best.” Once again, his eyes fell to the ring around her neck and Théodred’s words echoed in his mind. He held up the ring between them and took a deep breath.

 

“It was always supposed to be worn on your finger, not your neck,” He took a deep breath. “Will you marry me?”

 

“Of course you stupid fool, it took you long enough to ask!” And with a mischief smile she added. “And now, kiss me!”

 

With a happy grin, he did just that.

 

When Théodred returned, he found them still locked at the lips and ignorant to everything around them, but the king did not miss the ring gracing Credwyn’s finger.

 

“It’s about time!”

Chapter Text

Edoras, 2978 TA

 


“Out of my way,” Théoden barked at the elderly woman in front of the heavy wooden door, but she did not budge or even flinch at his harsh tone.

 


“You cannot come in, your majesty. Men have no place here!”

 


“I am the king!”

 


“You are still a man!” She replied calmly.

 


A loud moan was heard from behind the door and Théoden was seconds away from pushing the old hag to the side and simply step in, when the heavy hand of his best friend Helmund landed on his shoulders and held him back.

 


“Let the women do their work, my king. The noises are awful but I assure you they are not uncommon.”

 


As father of five, Théoden guessed that Helmund knew what he was talking about, but it still felt wrong to leave his wife alone in a time like this. Giving the hag another glare he turned around and started to march up and down the hallway.

 


“Who decided that men have no right to stay with their wives during childbirth?” He muttered angrily under his breath.

 


“Believe me, it’s not an experience you would enjoy!”

 


The way his battle-hardened friend was scrunching his nose had Théoden haltering in his step and raising an eye brow in question.

 

“It’s gruesome, bloody and maddening!”

 

“Maddening how?”

 

“To just stand there and watch your wife withering and crying, while you cannot do a damn thing to lessen her pain!”

 

As if on command the moaning from the other side of the door got louder. His eyes snapped towards it. He was not sure if this was not more maddening than being in the same room as her. Rubbing his hand across his face he tried to calm his nerves.

 

Elfhild is a strong woman, she will be fine!

 

When his father had chosen her as for his bride, Théoden had been furious. She did not match the picture he had in his mind for a wife! Far from it. With her brown hair and petite, slender form she was the opposite to the tall, curvy, blonde women he liked to bed. The only remarkable thing about her in his mind (at least in the beginning), were her cornflower blue eyes.

 


Knowing that he had no choice in that matter, he married her but ignored her as far as possible and carried on as before. It had been the death of his father and the heavy pressure that came with wearing a crown that brought them together.

 

Though she was a petite and delicate woman, she had a strong will and a quick mind. Above that she was a born diplomate, where he was often too hot-headed. They complemented each other well and in secret Théoden admitted to himself that his father had chosen wisely for him.

 

His interest in other women subdued over the last two years. Slowly and unnoticed at first but undeniable. The tall, golden haired women he had always admired lost their appeal to him and he rather spend his evenings talking to his wife than in the company of other women. Acknowledging his feelings for her, even to himself, had been hard. Making her believe him after all the time he spent ignoring her, had been even harder but over time she had accepted it.

 

Loving her was as astonishing easy though and the knowledge that she loved him back still left him a little breathless. The restlessness that had always filled him and urged him to act before he thought had vanished. Instead he was…content. He had found his place in this world and Elfhild was his anchor.

 

And now they were expecting their first child!

 

A high-pitched scream ripped him from his thoughts and his eyes snapped to the door. Holding his breath, he starred at the wooden barrier until his lung started to burn. Noisily the air whooshed out of his lungs, when nothing else could be heard from the room. He was just about to start pacing again, when Elfhild screamed again. This time louder and longer.

 

That was not normal, was it?

 


Cold, terrifying fear ripped through him and this time he was not willing to remain out here. Determined to get to his wife he ignored the dragon who guarded the door and gripped the handle.

 


“Your majesty you cannot…”

 

“I can,” he snapped and pushed her aside to step into the room. The first thing he noticed was the smell, a nauseating mix of sweat, blood and herbs. The second was the squirming figure on the bed. Théoden did not pay any mind to the other women in the room, who had all stopped in their movements for a moment as he entered and rushed towards his wife.

 

She was in the middle of the giant bed, half laying half sitting against a pile of pillows behind her back. The white nightgown was soaked with sweat and clinging to her small frame and big belly like a second skin. Damp, dark hair framed her pale face that was twisted in pain and anguish.

 

“My Lord,” she whispered in a voice that was hoarse form screaming. “What are you...” Another contraction interrupted her and Théoden could see how her whole body shook with it.

 

“Schh…” He soothed her and grasped her cold sweaty hand in his, while he settled his body as close to her as possible without getting in the way of the midwifes who obviously decided to ignore his presence for the time being. “I am here now. Take my hand and press as hard as you need to!” A thankful smile flittered over her face but was quickly replaced by pain, as the next contraction hit her.

 


“You have to press again, my Lady!” The woman at the end of the bed ordered in a soft but resolute voice. It was obvious that his wife tried to follow her orders, but after a while Théoden could feel the pressure of her fingers lessen.

 


“I can’t…It hurts so much.” She whispered after a particular heavy contraction and Théoden suddenly understood what Helmund meant when he said childbirth was maddening.

 


“I can already see the head. Push! You must not stop now. It will hurt, but there is no other way!”

 


A broken sob left her lips and Théoden felt close to tears as well, but one of them had to be strong in this moment. Without thinking too much about it, he pushed the pillows to the side and climbed in the bed behind her. He noticed the nervous glances between the midwifes but ignored them in favour of his wife. It took him less than a minute to have her resting against his chest, his fingers safely intertwined with hers and his mouth close to her ear.

 

“I have you, love. I know you are strong, you can do it!”

 


“It hurts so much, Théoden!” She sobbed.

 


“I know, I know, but you have to push, Elfhild. Our child needs you to be strong!” She nodded weakly against his chest and started to follow the lead of the midwife. He continued to whisper words of love and encouragement into her ear and ignored the steel like grip she had on his hands as well as her loud pitched cries as best as he could.

 


“The head is there, my Lady. The worst is over!” The midwife told them after a toe-curling scream from his wife that nearly deafened him. He could feel Elfhild’s body relaxing against him and for the first time in hours Théoden felt something like relief floating through him.

 

“Do you hear that, love? It’s nearly over.”

 

“Just one more time, my lady!”

 

A few minutes later a lusty scream filled the air and Théoden was momently distracted by the awareness that it was his child that was screaming. His healthy child!

 

“It’s a boy,” the midwife proclaimed in his direction and his thoughts tumbled wildly in his head as the words sunk in.

 

A boy! I am a father! I have a son!

 

“A boy. We have a son, love! What shall we name him?”

 

“Théodred!” His wife whispered so quietly that it barley reached his ear. Too quietly. Her body sagged further against him and it was only now that he finally registered that something was wrong. He had been so absorbed with his son, that he had not noticed the hectic on-goings around him, or the hushed whispers between the midwifes.

 

“Elfhild?” He grasped her hand, but unlike before she did not return his grip just stroked her fingers weakly over his hand. Fingers that did not reach out to hold her son who was still crying loudly. “Love?” He whispered near her ear, but got no response beside his whispered name.

 

“What is wrong with her?” The fear and panic that had settled down just moments before was back. And this time it was stronger than ever. “What is going on?!” He barked when no one would answer him quick enough.

 

“She has lost a lot of blood, your majesty.” One of them finally told him. From the tone of her voice he realised at once that the situation was grave.

 

“How…what…” He was not sure how to ask.

 

“I am very sorry, your majesty but there is nothing I can do.”

 

No! Everything in him rebelled against that statement. She could not die. Not now that they had found each other. Now that they had a son together. Their son…

 


Théodred. She has named him Théodred.

 


The boy was still crying and Théoden was not far away from joining him. Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself up until he was sitting with his back to the wall, Elfhild still firmly in his arms.

 


“Give me my son!” He demanded.

 

“Your majesty?”

 

“My son!” He snapped irritated. “And then leave us!” Carefully he took the crying boy form the approaching woman and settled him so that he was resting against his mother. The finger he used to carefully stroke the babes face appeared huge Théoden was once again overcome with awe at the sight.

 

“He is beautiful!” His wife whispered suddenly and Théoden could hear how weak she was. Fear for his wife mixed with joy over the birth of his son and left him absolutely helpless.

 

“Yes, he is. Just like his mother.” His voice was shaking with supressed emotions and he swallowed hard to get rid of the lump in his throat.

 


“Liar,” Elfhild mumbled. “He will take after his father. Promise me that you will look after him, Théoden.” By now her voice was barely understandable and Théoden pressed her further against him, as if he could shelter her from what was to come.

 


“I promise, love. I was a poor husband, but I promise I will not disappoint our son.” Théoden could feel all the remaining strength leave her body and he knew she was gone.

 


Elfhild, Queen of Rohan was dead.

 


“I will be the best father you can hope for, Théodred.” He promised and finally allowed himself to join his son in his mournful cries.

Chapter Text

Helm’s Deep, 3-4 March 3019 TA

 

With an annoyed smile Haldir allowed Aragorn to hug him. He had nothing against Aragorn, for a human he was bearably but that did not mean he wanted to be touched by him. Looking around he acknowledged Théoden with a nod, before his eyes wandered over men who surrounded them. He could not help the disgusted sneer that covered his face at what he saw. What had Galadriel been thinking, when she sent her Galadhrim here? Instead of a well-equipped army and battle-hardened soldiers he saw mostly common men, dressed in poorly fitting armour. Fear was written clear over their faces and the way most of them were clutching their weapons showed him that they were not familiar with them.

 

He would die here, they all would. And what for? For the sins of mankind. Had Isildur been stronger and destroyed the ring when he had a chance to do so, they would not be here today. Mankind was the root of all evil in his mind.

 

Haldir hated the race of men. He hated their rude behaviour, their narrow minds, their questionable morals and their laughable short live spans. But most of all he hated that fate made one of them into his soulmate. A soul destined to be reborn again and again until he found her. But regardless how often they crossed paths, he was doomed to lose her in the end. Haldir had gotten tired of fates cruel game a long time ago:

 

The first time he met her was early in second age. It was a cold winter that year. Even in March the snow was knee high in some parts of Lorien and guard duty was exhausting and difficult. When he found her, she was more dead than alive. Her frozen little body was covered by a fine layer of fresh snow and had it not been for his sharp eyes, she would have died alone and forgotten under the white blanket. The moment he touched her he knew who she was, his soulmate. His second half. Haldir was so shocked that he was unable to move for a moment. It was his brother, Rúmil, that reminded him of her condition. Covered in his thick woollen coat he had carried her back to Lorien where the healers tried their best to rescue her. But after a few weeks of frail hope she died in his arms. All that was left, was the memory of a weak, timid woman that had not even realised who he was. Her name was Mabella.

 

The second time they crossed paths was only two or three hundred years later. A blink of an eye in his life. Her name was Enali, a beautiful redhead with intense green eyes that had him in thrall as soon as she looked at him. She was one of the Dunedain and had it not been for her husband and two children, they might have had a chance. This time the pain he felt was more intense. It was much easier to live with a dead soulmate than with one who was alive and untouchable. The longer he stayed with the Dunedain to see her, the more painful it got. Haldir never told her who he was or what she was to him, but he saw her watching him, seeking his presence and detaching herself from her family. He could not let that happen, he was not so selfish even though he wished he was. So, he left.

 

The third time was at the beginning of the third-time age. Haldir met her when he and his brothers were passing through a small village near Lorien. She was old. Very old and fragile. Her eye sight had left her years ago, and her hearing was not much behind. Haldir did not stay, he did not even try to find out her name. To what use? Just another name to haunt his dreams.

 

When he met her the fourth time, two centuries ago, he wanted to turn around and spare himself the misery. But she was neither married, old nor about to die. She was just fifteen summers and had run away from home because her parents wanted her to marry a man she despised and got lost inside the forest. She was called Liléa, a plain and pale slip of a girl. But she was his and for the first time since he met her, nothing stood in their way. He loved her with everything that was in him and her -helpless against the bond loved him back with equal intensity. For a while they were happy and Haldir’s heart swelled with love and happiness every time he heard her carefree laughter, ran his fingers over her milk white skin or looked into the eyes of their daughter that had the same colour as Liléa’s, a stormy blue-grey, just like the sky after a thunderstorm.

 

But he should have known that fate was a cruel mistress. With every passing day, he was forced to watch helplessly as her hair faded from a midnight-black into grey and her silk like skin wrinkled more and more while he stayed as young and virile as the day they had met. One fateful morning he awoke next to her dead cold body and his heart broke, but it was not until a couple of years later, when their daughter died in childbirth, together with the babe, that it truly shattered.

 

Nothing of her remained in this world, while he was forced to live in it. However, the worst part was knowing that he would find her again. She would look different, smell different and feel different but she would be his soulmate. But other than him would not be able to remember him or the life that they shared.

 

Haldir was unwilling to meet her again. He wanted to die. How else would he escape his fate? Maybe Helm’s Deep would finally allow him to find peace.

 

When his time to die finally came, it was not like he expected. Not that he had a specific notion in mind how he would die, but this here felt wrong.

 

Ever since Liléa’s and his daughter’s death he had become more reckless, often finding himself in dangerous nearly hopeless situations. He was ready to die and playing with fire every chance he got, but now that he felt the blade stabbing his back he suddenly felt an emotion he had not expected: Fear.

 

Haldir always thought he would feel relieved or at least content at his very end, but never in a million years had it crossed his mind that he could be afraid. Fear was irrational, was it not? He was finally getting what he wished for: Freedom.

 

“Haldir,” Aragorn’s voice suddenly reached his ears, but it was such a faint sound that he barley heard it. His back and chest burnt like fire and he had trouble finding his breath, while he tried his best to calm himself down. With little success.

 

“You are dying, dying. You will drown in your own blood.” His mind screamed. Dizzy with pain and the loss of blood he looked around wildly and once again heard his name. Blinking he tried to find the source of the voice but his vision was already blurred and he had trouble to focus. All he could see were dark strands of hair. Dark like Liléa’s.

 

“Haldir!” His name again. Too far away. Everything seemed suddenly far away.

 

“Haldir!” Liléa, he thought. It was his wife who was calling him. Suddenly the pain in his chest lessened and he could breathe easier again.

 

“Liléa,” he whispered nearly inaudible. Finally, he would be with he again. This time forever. With a smile on his face Haldir, Captain of the Galadhrim, died.


 

At the same time, the exhausted screams of a young woman inside the thick walls of Helm’s Deep lessened and the lusty cry of a child filled the air, though both were drowned by the battle voices outside.

 

The babe was a boy.

 

He did not know it yet, but he was one half of a fated pair and this time his chance for a happy ending looked better than ever.

Chapter Text

Lake Town, September 2941 TA

It had been nothing serious in the beginning, just a flirty smile in passing and an admiring glance when her father had not been looking.

Fíli thought he was very sneaky about it, but of course Kíli noticed and poked him in the side, after he risked another smile in Sigrid’s direction, who blushed rather prettily. Unfortunately, his uncle noticed too.

The glare that Thorin threw in his direction was enough to stop his flirting, at least for the moment. Fíli was not stupid enough to risk his uncle’s ire and compromise their chance to reach Erebor with Bard’s help, because he was flirting with his daughter.

So, for the next few days he limited his flirting to a smile or two.

After that, with Kíli getting sicker, his uncle leaving them behind and Smaug attacking the city, flirting was the last thing on his mind. Staying alive seemed much more important.

In the end, it was Sigrid who bestowed him with a beautiful smile and a quick kiss to his cheek before he and the others made their way to Erebor.

 

It was her smile that played before his eyes as Azog’s blade stabbed through him and he fell over the cliff. Dwarfs were made from stone and rather robust against most physical damage, but they had their limits too. He heard Kíli’s screams, smelled the sickening aroma of blood and felt an all-consuming pain in every part of his body, but all that he could see was Sigrid’s smile.

Then everything turned black.


 

Dale, late November 2941 TA

When he woke up again his world was still dark. The pain had lessened but was still prominent enough to make it hard to breath. A familiar voice was calling his name but before he had the chance to find out who it was unconsciousness was claiming him again.

The process repeated itself a few times and Fíli could not tell how much time passed between each occasion, but every time he awoke the same familiar, soft voice was there and he felt comforted by it. Regardless how much pain he was in or how panicked he became when unconsciousness was trying to pull him under, he knew someone friendly was at his side.

When he finally woke up for good, everything around him was pitch black. In a natural reaction, he panicked and tried to sit up.

“Fíli, don’t!”

Wincing at the unexpected yet familiar voice he hesitated in his movement. Soft hands stroked over his face before they wandered towards his shoulders to push him back into a lying position.

“Please lie back, Fíli!”

“Sigrid?” He asked confused.

“Yes, it’s me.”

“What are you doing here? Where is here?”

“You are in Dale.” He could feel her hands stroking over the lines of his cheeks and chin and leant into her touch. Her warm, gentle hand felt nice against his skin. “How are you feeling?”

“Confused.” He admitted truthfully. “What am I doing in Dale? Where is…” A new wave of panic had him sitting up straight, as he suddenly remembered what had happened. “Where are Kíli and Thorin? What about the other? Did we win the battle? Azog, he…”

“Schh. Everyone else is fine. I promise. A few minor scratches and bruises but nothing major. We won! Erebor is yours again.” That calmed him down instantly and with a tired sigh he allowed himself to lean back against the comfortable pillows.

“Where is everyone?”

“Your brother and King Thorin are with the others, doing their best to make Erebor liveable again.”

Why was everyone in Erebor but him? Why was he in Dale and not with his kin?

“What happened?” Fíli was too tired to sit up again or possible to unwilling to resist Sigrid’s soothing carness of his face.

“You were hurt pretty badly fighting Azog.”

“How badly?” Her hands suddenly stopped her gently carness and cold dread filled him. “How bad, Sigrid?

“You were stabbed with a blade but lucky enough nothing vital was damaged,” she started hesitantly. “Master Oin was able to stop the bleeding and the wounds are healing pretty good. The fall from the cliff on the other hand was much more serve…”

How serve? He wanted to ask but did not. Instead he croaked out: “Sigrid, why can I not see you?”


 

He was blind! “Temporally without eye-sight” was how Oin put it.

Blind, his mind screamed. Blind!

A blind dwarf was as useless as a dull knife! He could no fight, he could not help to rebuild Erebor, he could not even walk five feet without help.

“Fíli?” Sigrid’s voice reached him. He wanted to ignore her like he ignored all the others, but he could not. Sigrid had looked after him, for all those weeks he was unconscious. And while everyone else turned more and more away from his side, she never left him. She did not deserve his silent treatment.

“Yes?”

“I wondered, if you would like to join me in the garden?”

“To what purpose?”

“It’s a nice winter’s day.”

“I cannot see!”

“But you can feel!” She pushed back. “You can feel the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair and smell the salt in the air.”

But I cannot see your smile. He thought bitterly.

“Maybe tomorrow Sigrid.” He did not join her in the garden the other day, or the day after that. It was a week later that Sigrid finally lost her patience.

“Enough with the pity party already, Fíli! You will come out with me today!”

Fíli opened his mouth to argue, but before he had the chance to say anything he felt her hand above his mouth. “No argument, you promised!” He did no such thing but gave in to her demands anyway. With a sigh, he got out of bed and allowed her to take his hand. Inwardly he steeled himself against the helpless feeling that came with being dragged around the room. But Sigrid did not manhandle him like his brother or uncle did. Instead she slipped her arm under his and softly told him how many steps he had to take before he had turn to his left or right or how much stairs he had to deal with. All the while she told him about her morning, as if she that was the most natural thing in the world.

With a painful arch in his chest he realised that she was treating him like a normal man.


 

Dale, January 2942 TA

Joining her in the garden became a regular thing for him. Sigrid was right, when she told him that he could not see but still had his other senses. It just took him a while to get over his bitterness to enjoy the cold wind in his hair or the feel of fresh snow on his face. He still was bitter, but slightly less so when Sigrid was around.

Over the last few months she had become a constant in his life. One he did not want to miss. She helped him to get used to his condition; how to navigate inside the house and how to rely more on his other senses. Sigrid also kicked his butt whenever he threw himself a pity-party and told him that his life was not over, but she also remained him that nothing was fixed yet. His wounds were serve and there was still hope. Fíli did not want to tell her, that she was the only one who still believed in a wonder.

By now, Kíli and Thorin had both started to hint (well demand in Thorin’s case) that it was time for him to live in Erebor. Home, Kíli had called it, but Erebor did not feel like home for Fíli. It was just a place he once was supposed to rule over. Bard’s house, small and plain as it was, with Tilda’s squealing laughter and Bain’s none-stop questions about his adventures felt much more like home these days.

“Fíli?” Warmth shot threw him as he heard Sigrid’s voice calling out to him. His heart started to beat just a tat bit quicker. Turning in her direction he waited for her to sit down beside him on the bench.

“Are you not cold?”

“I am a dwarf, we are not as affected by heat or frost like mankind.”

“Must be nice,” she mumbled and Fíli could hear her rubbing her hands against each other.

“Come here,” Fíli laughed and covered her with his cape. With a satisfied grin, he felt her pressing into his side and linking her fingers with her own. It was nice to provide her with comfort for a change. She was cold. Turning his head slightly to the side he brushed against her hair and smelled the faint scent of apples. Content for the moment he asked her to describe him what she saw which she did willingly and in great detail.

“Fíli?” She suddenly asked.

“Yes?”

“What do you miss the most?” He was silent for a while, unsure if he should tell her the truth. It sounded so cheesy. Even in his head.

“You will think it’s stupid.”

“I will not!” When he still did not answer her, she started to apologise. “I am sorry. It was a private question. I had no… “

“Your smile.”

“What?”

“What I miss the most. Seeing you smile at me.” Fíli could feel her starring at him and his cheeks started to heat up in embarrassment. “I am sorry, I should not…”

This time it was Sigrid who interrupted him. “You might not be able to see it, but you could always feel it.” She whispered.

“W-What?” He stuttered. “How?”

“You have to come closer.” Confused he leant slightly further into her. “Closer!” This time he could hear the amusement in her voice. He was a little slow on the uptake and it took him a minute to follow her meaning but suddenly it hit him like a hammer. A big smile formed on his own face.

“How close?” He asked teasingly. “Are you smiling?”

“I guess you will have to find out on your own.” She teased right back and without further ado, Fíli brushed his lips over her own to find out his answer.


 

Half an hour later, Kíli found them rosy cheeked and smiling brightly while they cuddled close to each other on the bench. Happy to see his brother smiling again, he turned around and left them alone. His uncle would not be happy about this, he thought amused: an elf and a human woman as princesses to Erebor. Who would have thought that possible?

Chapter Text

Rivendell, May 2937 TA

With carefree laughter Aragorn was running through the forest around Rivendell. It was early in the morning and he had managed to get away from Lindir, who was supposed to teach him today. He did not care much for boring lessons and rather enjoyed spending his day in the wild.

Aragorn knew he was not supposed to go hiking on his own, regardless how often he assured the adults that they did not need to worry about him. He was six years old after all! Old enough to do a little exploring on his own.

And what could happen here anyway? Rivendell was one of the safest places in Middle Earth. At least that was what Elladan and Elohir rapidly told him.

His goal was the little waterfall, that the twins had shown him last month. He took his time on his way, often getting distracted by a small animal or a plant that got his interest. It was not until he could hear the water that he focused on his plan again. With a grin, he jumped over two half rotten tree trunks and pushed the fern aside that hung like a curtain from a nearby tree and…suddenly stopped.

The grin on his face morphed into an expression of awed wonder.

He had no idea how long he stood there and starred fascinated at the beautiful creature who was sitting by the waterfall when he suddenly sensed a presence beside him, at both sides.

“Is that Elbereth?” His voice held the awed fascination only a child could possess. Lord Elrond had told him about the Valar. He had described all off them and Aragorn remembered that he called Vadar or Elbereth, the Star Queen, the most beautiful creature who ever walked on Adar. With hair as dark as the night sky and skin as fair as the pale light of the moon.

“Eru, no!” Elladan laughed.

“Even though, ada might tell you different!” Elohir added chucking. “But don’t get fooled by her pretty face, she can be a right terror if she does not get her way!”

Confused how anybody could speak about her like that he asked: “Who is she?”

“That, my dear Estel is our sister.”

“Arwen!”

At the mention of her name the dark-haired beauty suddenly turned in their direction and smiled at them. A smile so breathing and beautiful that Aragorn did the only thing that seemed logical: He turned around and fled.

 


 

Rivendell, September 2952 TA

It was like a Deja-vu, when he saw her again. Like his six-year old self he starred at her with an awestruck expression and froze in his movement. If possible, she was even more beautiful than he remembered. And he remembered her quite well. Though he had only seen her for a few minutes, she had branded herself into his mind like a dream. She was all he had talked about to his mother for days and he had also taken his drawing classes much more serious. He had wanted to draw her, but regardless how much better he got over the years he never really managed to capture her beauty. She was like starlight; illuminating but too far away to capture it.

Elladan and Elohir had teased him merciless about his obsession for their sister, but that had not stopped him in his enthusiasm. Over the years he had stopped being so vocal about it, but he still dreamed about her every now and then.

And now he was facing her again, older but not less intimidated by her beauty. Maybe more so, because now he regarded her with the eyes of a man not that of a child.

Laughing quietly beside him, Lord Elrond patted his arm. “Come Estel, let me introduce you to my daughter. Or would you rather run away again?” The old elf teased him gently.

This time his feet managed to stay put, it was just his heart that went out and never came back.


 

Lórien, November 2980 TA

It was a cold winter that year. So cold that he deemed it better to spent the coming months in a permanent settlement. It was too dangerous to stay on the road. Lórien was near and Aragorn knew Galadriel would not turn away a person in need.

He had not expected to see Arwen here, which made his forced stop so much more bearable. Everything felt so much lighter and more beautiful when she was around. Aragorn had not expected to see her often, much rather talk with her -she was Galadriel’s granddaughter after all and he just a ranger with a noble but cursed bloodline. Much to his delighted surprise they often crossed paths.

With every passing day, he fell more and more in love with her. Not just her beauty but her inner strength and kind soul. Her voice was like music in his ears and her laughter like a balm to his soul. No other woman had ever touched his heart and Aragorn knew that no other, elleth or woman, ever would. She was it for him and due to some kind of miracle, she reciprocated his feelings.

The month went by and as winter slowly turned into the first days of spring the unthinkable happened on the mount of Cerin Amroth and Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Elrond and Aragorn, son of Arathorn plighted their troth to each other.

For once in his life Aragorn felt like the Valar were smiling upon him.


 

Rivendell, 25 December 3018 TA

Aragorn laid on his back and starred at the night sky. The moon was barley there tonight, but the stars shone brightly down at him and reminded him of Arwen: His Star Queen.

“You seek the hand of my daughter, but your plea shall not be granted until you sit on your rightful place and the line of Elendil rules once again over Gondor and Arnor. My daughter will be your Queen or not yours at all.”

Elrond’s words lingered in his ears, as if they had been spoken mere minutes ago and not decades. Like Beren, he was given a task that seemed impossible to accomplish but now, the possibility to reach that goal seemed nearer and simultaneously farer than ever.

Absently he played with the brooch around his neck, that Arwen had gifted him with the night before, to remind him of the promise she made all those years ago. She would not sail with her people to the Blessed Realm, instead she would remain here with him and become mortal.

Pained pleasure flowed through his body as he remembered receiving her gift. Though they had plighted their troth decades before, it felt much more real all the sudden. Over the years Aragorn had many doubts, not in Arwen’s love, but about himself. What right did he have to force her into such a hopeless destiny? She was a beautiful elleth of high standing and could have everything and everyone she so desired, but she chose him. A mortal man who loved her but whose love would kill her in the end. But regardless how much he quarrelled with himself, his destiny and struggled under the pressure that came with being Isildur’s heir, Arwen always had faith in him.

And for her sake he would have faith in himself and this quest. With a heavy sigh he closed his eyes, he had a feeling that sleep would be rare in the coming months.


 

Minas Tírith, Mid-years-day 24 FA

Aragorn was standing in the great hall with his wife’s twin brothers who had come to visit their new born niece, when Elladan suddenly nudged him in the side.

“Am I the only one who has a Deja-vu?” Elladan chuckled and pointed into the direction where Eldarion was standing and starring dreamy eyed at the golden-haired daughter of King Éomer. They all watched as the little prince hesitantly reached his hand out to touch her hair, obviously fascinated by its colour. Before he could reach his goal, the little princess turned around and Eldarion ripped his hand back as if it was on fire.

“At least, he is not running away.” Elohir added with a smirk that had Aragorn rolling his eyes.

“You two will never let me forget about that, right?”

“No!”

“Never!”

Together they watched the two children. His son was shyly smiling at the girl and telling her something that had her smiling brightly and nodding. A minute later they were holding hands, and rushing towards the garden.

“Smooth,” Elladan grinned. “He must get that from his mother.”

“Well, I managed to get his mother in the end, didn’t I?!” Aragorn huffed at the teasing.

“Tell that yourself,” Elohir snickered. “That you got her!”

“What is that supposed to mean?!”

“Oh brother,” Elladan sounded downright pitying. “You do not think that all those random meetings you had over the years with our dear little sister, were all that random, do you?”

His gobsmacked expression had the brothers laughing outright. “You mean to tell me that Arwen…”

“Manipulated the situation in her favour?” Elohir asked. “Absolutely!”

His eyes flew across the hall to where his wife was standing and talking to Éowyn, both women with babies on their arm. Was it possible that the twins were right? Every time they met in those early years had not been by chance but due to Arwen’s careful meddling?

As if she had heard his thoughts, she turned in his direction and bestowed him with a mischievous little grin. For a long moment, he just starred at her in surprise before a satisfied smile formed around his lips. Without a second glance at the twins, who were howling in amusement, he walked across the hall.

He had a random meeting to attend.

Chapter Text

Rivendell, Spring 2760 SA

A tournament between Rivendell, Mirkwood and Lothlorien.

Haldir was torn between excitement and annoyance when he first heard about it. On the one hand, he liked to compete like most warriors, but found it hard to find a challenging opponent these days. There was a reason why he was the marchwarden of the Galadhrim. So, the prospect of finding a worthy combat partner was appealing. On the other hand, such an event would entail numerous social gatherings and if there was one thing Haldir did not enjoy it was festivities. Too many people, too much dancing, music and wine.

He would prefer a good fight, a hearty meal and a quite talk by the fire to one of Elrond’s grand gatherings any time. Or that of any other lord.


 

“Who is that?”

“That, my dear brother, is the elleth who will kick your ass!”

Haldir did not try to cover the incredulous snort. Three days had passed and until now not one of his opponents had managed to beat him. Allowedly, he had not yet had the chance to duel Glorfindel or Erestor but he had expected a bit more of a challenge from other participants nonetheless.

The redhaired elleth who was currently fighting one of Elrond’s guards might provide him with that. He watched her dodge a blow to her head, swirl around and attack with a smooth blade combination. She was quick and efficient. It would not take her long to win this challenge.

“She is good, but not that good.”

“You will find out soon enough.”

“So, who is she?”

“Raised your interest?”

Haldir was not in the mood to let Rúmil tease him and ignored the question. “So?”

“She is the captain of Thranduil’s guards.”

Surprised he looked at his brother before his eyes shifted back to the woman in question who was finishing off her opponent like he predicted. With a final nod towards the guard on the ground she turned around and left the battle ground.

Captain of the guards? She was not that old. So, either Thranduil was short on competent fighters, or she was even more skilled than this match let on.


 

Her name was Tauriel and it did not take him long to realise that she gained her title due to her excellent fighting skills and bravery. Some nasty tongues argued that it was the prince’s infatuation with her that got her the position, but Haldir knew Thranduil good enough to know that it was rather an argument against her. No common warrior would ever be good enough for his precious son. That he put her into a position where she would socialise with his son regardless, spoke volumes of her skills.

For once though, the rumour mill had it right: Legolas was infatuated with her. He followed her around like a besotted puppy and glared at anyone who looked at her a little bit too long. Tauriel seemed annoyed by his behaviour but was obviously in no position to tell her prince to leave her alone.

The opportunity to talk to her without her shadow arose two days later and Haldir was quick to make the best of it. She was heading towards the forest, obviously fed up with Legolas constant hovering and looking for bit time of her own.

Too bad for her that he did not care much about that. He grinned and followed her as silently as he could. Let’s look how good she is!

At first it was fun and he was extra careful with his steps but after a while, when she still had not noticed his presence he made a bit of noise. Just a stirring in the leaves here or a bird that suddenly flew away there. But still nothing! Was she deaf?

With every step further into the forest his frown deepened and the grudging respect he had developed for her through watching her combats lessened. It seemed he had greatly overrated her talents.

“Elleth that will kick my ass, as if!” He grunted annoyed and nearly fell down the branch he was standing on, when a voice behind him announced: “I would not be so sure about that!”

Using all the grace and balance he could muster he managed to turn around without wobbling (much) and thankfully without making any embracing noises, only to face the end of a very sharp looking blade.

“Who are you?! And why are you following me since I entered the forest?!”

Ah, so much for her being ignorant! Haldir could have kicked himself. Of course, she had not let on, that she knew she was being followed. He himself would have done the exact same thing. He would have kept going, allowing the pursuer to think that he was clueless and then…strike.

“It’s a dark forest where dangerous beasts lurk behind every leave. I just wanted to make sure that nothing happens to a fair maiden like you!” Haldir had no idea where he came up with that! He was neither known for his humour nor for his smooth charm. But now the words were out he had to make the best of it. Trying to appear unaffected by her blade he smiled, which felt more like a twitch in the corner of his mouth, and shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.

She seemed neither surprised or impressed with his entry. The blade remained where it was.

“I will ask again, who are you?”

“Haldir of Lorien.” From the way her eyes widened slightly for a second he knew that she recognised his name but to her credit her face remained impassive.

“You might be lying!”

“I might, but to what purpose?”

“To accuse someone else for stalking me!”

“You wound me!”

“No, I have not,” she smirked before she added: “Yet!”

“I was not stalking, merely checking something!”

“Ah, and what might that be?”

“If it is true what I heard about you in the rumour mill!” He could see her hand tightening around the hilt of her sword. Apparently, she was not ignorant to what people spoke behind her back.

“And what have you heard in the rumour mill?” She asked with an chilly voice.

“That you would be able to defeat me in combat.” 

A tiny smirk appeared on her lips. “Is that so?”

“Doubtful,” he snorted, and the smirk disappeared. “In my experience, rumours are just that -rumours!”

She hesitated for a few seconds but apparently approved of his words. With a firm nod she lowered her sword and put it away. “Care to find out if the rumour mill has it right for once?”

He grinned cockily. “Maybe, what is in it for me?”

Tauriel snorted very unladylike. Apparently, his flirting attempts surprised her.

Well that made two of them.

“If you lose? Nothing. If you win you may gloat about it all you want!”

“How about this, if I win you will go to the evening feast with me!” He blinked, surprised by his own words and for a moment they simply starred at each other. Her mouth opened and closed a few times before she finally got over it.

“And if you lose?”

“Ah, that never happens.” He replied and enjoyed the angry glint in her eyes. She was so easy to rile up. “What would you like?”

“How about a tale.”

“A tale?” “A tale, a story, a poem. Something entertaining. Something I have not heard before.”

That was unexpected but not unwelcome. If he would win, he could take her to the feast and would not be bored and the look on Legolas face would be highly entertaining when he spied his crush on his arm. Losing on the other hand would make her spent some more time with him, probably without a bunch of people starring at them. That was tempting.Very tempting. Hmm.

In the end he gathered it was a win-win situation either way.

“You are on!”

Chapter Text

Dale, 29. August 2943 TA

Dawlin had a bad day! Admittedly, hat was nothing new but today was even worse than usual. First, some clumsy young servant tripped over his feet and spilled a jug of water on him. After that he went to find Thorin, who had promised to meet him at the training pit. He waited for half an hour before a delivery boy showed up, to tell him that an urgent matter came up and his majesty was very sorry but he had to postpone their training. Dwalin would bet his best axe that the urgent matter was a pretty, little bakery owner.

Sometimes he missed the old, grumpy Thorin!

In truth, he was happy that his best friend had found someone who was able to make him smile again and help him to overcome the grief and self-reproach. Frára was good for him.

Nevertheless, he hated, being stood up. Already in a grumpy mood he decided to head towards Dale which he usually avoided. Too many people in his opinion. Too much noise and money hungry merchants. But the market was much bigger than in Erebor and he needed a few things.

A few hours, threats and coins later he had everything he wanted and was just about to head home when he heard it.

Quiet sobbing.

If there was one thing that Dwalin could not stand it was crying females. From the sound of it the crying female, in this case, was a child which made it even worse. He knew he should turn around and mind his own business but his legs seemed to have a life of their own and before he knew it he was standing in front of a small girl who was half hidden behind an old broken cart.

Even for a child of men, she was petite, frail even. She had her thin arms wrapped around her knees and her head pressed between them. All he could see was a mop of red curly hair.

“Um…are you alright?”

Stupid question, Dawlin. Of course, she is not all right!

“Laddie,” he grunted uncomfortable. “What’s the matter?”

The pale face that looked up at him was drowned in tears and covered in red blotches that nearly matched the colour of her hair. Her clear blue eyes got big when she realised who was standing before her. Though dwarfs were not uncommon on these streets these days his people kept mostly to themselves. And there were a lot of prejudice still, on both sides.

Her mouth dropped open and for a moment he feared she would start to scream, but instead a sound between a gasp and a squeal left her mouth. “You are a dwarf!”

He had to grin at her awestruck tone. The reason for her distress was obviously forgotten as she starred at him. “Aye.”

“But you are tall!”

From all the things, she could possibly say to him that was the last he expected. A surprised laugh left his lips. “I guess I am tall for one of my people.”

The joy suddenly left her eyes. “I am not! The others do not want to play with me. They say my pa had to be a dwarf, for me to be so small.”

Dwalin winced at that. He forgot how cruel children could be when they were faced with someone who was different.

“They call me a midget!” Once again, tears welled up in her eyes and Dwalin hastily took a step forward to calm her down. “No need to cry, laddie. Being small does not mean being weak.”

Her bottom lip trembled but she managed to keep her tears at bay. “Mommy says the same!”

“Well there you have it. Mothers are always right.” She sniffled a bit but nodded, not doubting the universal truth of his statement.

“Speaking of your mother, shouldn’t you be home with her?” He looked at the sky, noticing that the sun was already sinking. Though it was still summer, the days were getting noticeable shorter and cooler. “It’s not safe in the streets for you after dark.”

“I can’t go home!”

“Why is that?”

She promptly started crying again and Dwalin felt like a complete fool. Why was he always making her cry? “Hush, now. Tell me what is wrong!”

“Mommy send me to purchase bread, but those bullies took my coins!”

His sigh of relieve was audible. “That’s no problem. Come one!” He made an impatient gesture for her to get up and follow him and after a short hesitation she did so. If a loaf of bread would stop the whole drama he would buy her one. Hell, he would buy her the whole bakery if it would stop her from crying!

“What’s your name?” She piped up beside him and linked her small fingers with his much lagers ones, as if that was the most natural thing in the world.

“Dwalin. What’s yours?”

“Lianora.”

“Hu, that’s pretty.”

“You think so?” And just like that her face lit up and all worries were forgotten. For as long as he lived Dwalin would never understand females.


 

A short while later she was talking his ear off, while he was packed with a large loaf of bread and a few sweet crones and they were walking back toward her home. Strangely enough her constant chatter did not irritate him, he even laughed a time or two and enjoyed the happy smile on her face.

She had not let go of his hands and though it was unexpected it was also nice. Kíli and Fíli had done the same when they were small, trusting him to lead them and protect them from harm. The reminder of the two made his heart heavy for a moment and he hurriedly pushed the thought away. This was not the right moment to mourn the past.

“We are nearly there!” His companion told him and pointed at one of the houses. It was a bit aside form the other homes and had obvious seen better days. The roof needed some work, the door could use new paint and two or three strips on the wooden blinds needed to be changed. But from the look of the well-groomed garden, accurately stacked wood billets and otherwise tidy appearance the residents obviously tried their best. The house looked as if it enjoyed the touch of a woman but missed that of a man.

He wanted to ask Lianora where her father was but decided against it. A lot of lives had been lost in the last battle, not just dwarf ones.

Before he could say or do something the little girl pushed the door open and pulled him inside while she called for her mother. As soon as he crossed the threshold he was hit by a mouth-watering scent. Obviously, the woman could cook.

“Lia, where –“ An older, rounder but only slightly taller vision of the girl at this side appeared in front of them, drying her hands on her apron, but abruptly quietened when she realised that her daughter was not alone.

Dwalin realised what a picture they made. A strange dwarf, heavily armed, with his hands on her daughter inside her home where she obviously lived alone. He was just about to stammer an explanation when Lianora piped up again.

“Hey mummy,” she beamed at the woman who was still frozen on the spot. “This is Dwalin, he is a real dwarf!” The way she stressed the word real made him grin, despite the situation. “I met him on the market! He was real nice to me even though the others were mean bullies. He even helped me with my purchases. Can he stay for dinner?”

The woman starred at him for a moment longer before she relaxed slightly, and a wobbly smile spread over her lips. “Yes, of course.”


 

A short while later, Dwalin leant back in his chair and watched the two females interact with each other. His belly was filled with the most delicious food he had eaten in quite a while and his face muscles hurt from the constant smile on his lips. He looked around the homey little room and noticed a cupboard which needed a new paint and a chair which could use a new leg.

Maybe…maybe he could offer them some help? Yes, that seemed like a good plan. He could come here again and fix the roof, the cupboard and all the other things.

 

Why should Thorin be the only one with a secret source of good food and company?

 

Chapter Text

Riddermark, 3. September 3018 S.A.

“Get down!”

Before he could react, something heavy hit him in the side and knocked him to the ground. Rolling to his back he tried to catch his breath and prepare himself for the attack. But instead of the expected face of an Orc he looked into a pair of deep green eyes. They were hypnotic, and he could not look away. An intense wave of desire rushed through him before he realised that he was staring into the face of one of his Rohirrim. Embarrassed and angry he pushed the man of him and…

With a loud gasp Théodred woke up. Guiltily he looked around, but no one beside the night guards was awake and those had their eyes directed into the other direction. No one payed heed to him. With a deep sigh he pushed his sweaty hair out of his face and sat up. Sleep was out of question anyway, so he stepped over to the fire and tried to clear his head. Like always, all that did was getting him more fixed on the memory that haunted his dreams.

Three weeks ago, they encountered a particularly large group of Orcs near the border. The fight had gone on for hours and while he and his men started to get tired, the Orks seemed to go on without any sign of fatigue.

Not for the first time, Théodred had felt like he was getting too old to for the kind of live he had been living for the last couple of years. Sleeping on the road, rationed food and exhausting fights. Though he was fit for a man his age, the last two years had been hard on anyone. His thirties live day had come and gone a couple of months ago. Only Éomer had remembered but had thankfully not made much fuss about it. He had sat down beside him with a bottle of wine that evening and started to talk about better times; Their childhood, their adventures as boys, their dreams. With more wine the mood had become sadder and slightly bitter, as they both realised how much they had lost and how many of their childhood hopes had been crushed. The world had turned grey and with every passing day he could feel it getting darker. If things remained as they were, they would both die out here, and few were left to mourn them. Éomer had his sister and he his father, but beside that they both were alone. And given the mental state of his father, maybe he had no one any longer.

As a boy he had always dreamed about a big family. He whished for brothers and sisters but as his father had never married again that wish never came true. When he was eight Éomer and Éowyn came to live with them and in a way that soothed his wish. As he got older and started to notice girls, his wish for a family of his own lay dormant for a couple of years, but the older he got the more pronounced it became again but he never found the one that made his heart race and occupy his thoughts.

He had kept himself busy with other things and over the last couple of years. There had always been some conflict or threat; first bandits and wild people and lately Orcs. It was as if time had just slipped through his hands.

And now he could not get over those green eyes. It was as if his mind had fixed itself on it and would not let go. Shame and embarrassment washed over him as he remembered his bodies reaction to the rider in his dreams. Never in all his life had he had such a reaction towards a man. He liked women! Only women! He had simply been without the company of one for too long!

 

Riddermark, 19. January 3019 S.A.

Bedding a woman had not changed anything. Bedding two more neither. Regardless what he did he could not forget. Nearly four months had passed since the encounter with the green-eyed rider and he still dreamed of him.

He had not seen the man since then and for a while he had convinced himself that he had imagined the whole incident. That was until a week ago.

The Orc attacks were getting stronger and more frequent. For a while he had split his Rohirrim in two groups to cover more grounds but as the hordes of enemies were getting bigger they had joined the troops again. He was unsaddling his horse, lost in thoughts when he turned around and looked right into two green orbs. For a short moment both of them stood frozen on the spot starring at each other.

Théodred could see the moment his eyes widen in fright and knew that he was going to bolt. Unfortunately, he was still too surprised to react. The next second the rider had turned around and fled, leaving Théodred to stare at his back. He was small and slim, clearly in need of a good meal and new tunic from what he could see. A mop of dark curly hair, that had been hidden beneath the hood of his cape before his hasty escape, was now tumbling freely around his head and was the last Théodred saw of him before he vanished behind a group of men.

“Don’t mind him, my Lord!” Théodred nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the gruff voice behind him. Guiltily he whirled around and starred at a grey-haired rider who was equally busy with his horse. Had he been there the whole time?

“What?”

“The boy, my Lord! Don’t mind him, he does mean no disrespect. He’s shy and does not speak much!”

Boy! Théodred cringed inwardly. “Does he know how to use that sword?” Now that he had a chance to see him, he asked himself how a skinny lad like that could hold himself against a horde of Orcs or managed to knock him off his feet. A gruff laugh answered him.

“Certainly, my Lord. Haldor may look like a breeze could knock him over, but he’s quick and as deadly with his sword as any of us. What he lacks in strength he equals with agility.”

Haldor. Now he had a name to add to the eyes. Somehow, that made it worse.

 

Riddermark, Early morning of the 25. Febuary 3019 S.A

Never try to trick a trickster, he will always have another trick up his sleeve! His father’s words echoed in his mind and not for the first time he cursed himself for thinking he could outsmart Saruman.

From the moment his scout had informed him about the mustering taking place in Isengard things had gone downhill. To think, a week ago his biggest concern were a few marauding Orcs and his maddening fixation with a green-eyed boy.

Ever since finding out his name, Théodred had been much more aware of the boy. He noticed him moving around the camp, helping with the horses, fetching supplies, assisting the healers, sharpening knives and daggers of himself and others. He seemed to be everywhere, a fixed figure in the picture without anyone taking notice of him. Sure, the other Rohirrim acknowledged him, thanked him or patted him on the back in passing but nobody really talked to him. He seemed to be on good terms with everyone but kept to himself.

The wild mix of guilt, shame, longing, self-loathing and curiosity that was linked with the awareness of the boy held him in a tight grip. Never, in all his life had he been so obsessed with someone. It was unnatural and other people started to notice. Namely Éomer. His cousin had kept his opinion thankfully to himself, at least verbally. The not so subtle raised eye-brow and half-crocked grin however spoke volumes.

Nothing of that mattered any more. Not while he was facing a vast number of Uruk-hai that were attacking them on both sides of the Isen.

After his scouts report he had taken the majority of his Rohirrim north to face Saruman’s troops, while they were still preparing for battle. It had been a nasty surprise when he realised that it was a trap and the Orc’s were already expecting them. The first enemy troop that crossed their path was easily defeated, but when they came face to face with the main army he knew he had no other choice than to retreat.

Unfortunately, by then they had been flanked from the west side as well and had it not been for Éomer and his rear-guard, they would have been stumped to the ground. For a short while after that, Théodred thought they could come out on top of this battle. That was before he spotted the Orc army on the eastern side of the Isen marching south. Though he had acted fast and ordered his troops to retreat, Grimbold and his men holding the western Fords and Éomer and himself taking stand on the hill in the middle of the Isen, it was already to late. The three companies he had left behind on the eastern side were outmatched by the sheer number of enemies and soon destroyed. And from the looks of it, it was a destiny that they would soon share.

It was getting harder and harder to defend the little hill and Grimbold had his hand full trying to protect the western side. No help would be coming form there. He was getting tied while the enemies seemed to get bigger and nastier. There were Orcs, Uruk-hais and even Wargs. How was it possible for Saruman to hide his dark army for so long? Why had nobody noticed? How had Rohan not noticed that something was amiss?

“Get down!”

A strong sense of Deja-vu overcame him, a second before someone slammed into him from the side with enough force to knock the breath right out of him.

The moment he landed on his back, he noticed the giant Orc that had been in the process of slamming a massive pickaxe down towards his head. Though it had missed its original goal, the axe was continuing its downward path and Théodred realised with dread that it would hit his rescuer, who was still laying splayed over his chest. Overcoming his sore muscles and breathlessness he tried to push them around, but it was already too late!

The triumphant cry of the creature was overlayered by the agonised scream of his rescuer, Haldor, as the sharp tip of the weapon buried itself deep into his back.

Horrified Théodred watched as the Orc tore his axe back with so much brute strength that it pulled Haldor’s impaled body with it. Green frightened eyes locked with his own and Théodred was suddenly flooded with a wave of white hot rage that pushed his tried body into action. With a loud cry he sprang back to his feed, griped his sword and pushed it with all his might into the unprotected side of the Orc who lost his grip on the pickaxe at the unexpected attack and dropped it to the ground and Haldor with it.

He ignored its surprised yell and ducked beneath he widely swinging arms. Again and again he stabbed his blade into the foul creature until he had it on its knees bleeding out of multiple wounds. It was as good as dead, but Théodred was too enraged to care and continued until the limp body fell motionless to the side.

For a long moment he simply starred, his breath heavy his muscles tied form exertion, ready to smash down the next enemy but none came. Blinking he looked around and noticed Grimbold and Éomer fighting near by holding the enemies at bay. More Rohirrim than Orcs filled he little hill and Théodred heard the familiar sound of a horn. Elfhelm had arrived!

His eyes search the horizon for the arriving cavalry and held his breath as saw the first rays of the sun glittering over the riders, playing tricks to his eyes. From his position it looked as if thousands of riders were approaching them, which he knew for a fact could not be true. However, the enemy had no way of knowing that and assumed that they were outnumbered. Within moments they started to flee, trying to safe their worthless necks.

A whimpering sound behind him ripped him out of his observation. Quickly he turned towards Haldor, who was laying on the ground on his back, still impaled on the pike. The fall had pushed the pike deeper into his body so that the tip was looking out in the middle of his chest.

“By the Valar,” Théodred breathed out in horror and hurried towards him. Feeling helpless and unsure how to help him he tried to lift him, so he was not lying on the damned weapon. The agonised scream stopped him instantly though. Cursing and apologising at the same time he did not know what to do.

“My Lord…” The boy mumbled brokenly between whimpers, blood dripping out of his mouth. He looked even more fragile than usual, his eyes unnatural bright and big in his pale sweat covered face.

“Shh, don’t speak. I will help you. You will…I will…I am…”

“Théodred!”

Éomer appeared beside him. Panicked he starred at his cousin. “He pushed me down and took the blow for me!” Apparently, his cousin’s head functioned better than his own and he called for a healer.

“By Oromë!” Grimbold’s voice drowned the surprised gasp of the healer who finally arrived by his side. “Is he still alive?” His giant commander starred down at the grotesque picture and Théodred could not blame him for the doubt in his voice.

Everyone turned to the healer who was already busy running his hands over Haldor’s maimed body.

“Careful!” He snapped when the boy suddenly cried out in pain, but the healer ignored him. “We have to pull it out!” Logically Théodred knew that the pike could not remain were it was, but he remembered the agonized scream when he simply pushed him up.

“Won’t he bleed to death?” Grimbold again.

“Maybe, but we must get him to Edoras, and he cannot be moved with this thing inside his chest. Every move will press it deeper inside, causing more damage. The chance of him dying is slimmer without it.” The man sounded calm and sure.

“Okay, how do we do this?”

“You will keep him upwards, while we pull the axe out from under him. Better give him something he can bite on, this will hurt.” Théodred gulped. That would not only hurt that would probably rip him from consciousness. Maybe that was for the best. He did what he was told, while the healer instructed Grimbold how to pull out the pike.

“Ready?” The healer asked and Théodred grasped Haldor’s hand, gently squeezing it. Green eyes focused on him and he returned the glaze. “Okay, pull!”

The sound that left Haldor’s throat was one of the most terrifying he had ever heard. It became so shrill and pitched that his ears started to ring and then it suddenly stopped. “He’s unconscious!”

“Good for him!” The healer mumbled. “Okay, now out with it.” With a smacking sound the two men were finally able to rip the enormous weapon out of his body.

“Damn, that’s big!” Grimbold exclaimed and starred at the bloody pickaxe in his hands. The healer ignored him and pushed him out of his way to kneel beside his patient.

“Hold him up, I don’t want his back on the ground. You,” The healer looked at Éomer, who until now had stood silently behind him and watched them work. “Make yourself useful and help me to get him out of this armour.”

Armour was too big of a word to describe the thin scrap of leather that was covering his torso. No wonder he had been impaled. Théodred would get him a better one, if he survived this. If

The blood-soaked tunic and leather was a bigger challenge than expected until Éomer lost his patience and pulled out his knife. With a few well-placed cuts the garment was pushed to the side and…

Everyone suddenly froze. And starred. Not at the impressive hole the weapon had left or the blood seeping out of it. They all starred at his chest. At her chest! Because although they were not that big, the torso in front of them undeniable contained a pair of breasts. Soft, round, female breasts.

Haldor, was a woman!

Éomer cursed and ripped his fingers back as if he had been burned. Grimbold started to stammer that he had to look after his troops and vanished with cheeks the colour of his hair. The healer shrugged his shoulders and simply continued with what he was doing and Théodred…. Théodred simply starred.

A woman. Woman. Female.

His eyes hushed over the limp body in his arms. The long, slim fingers, the petite but muscular body, the long neck that lacked the typical male knob up the fine structured face that was still grimaced in agony.

He had not been obsessed with a pretty boy. All this months he had secretly been longing for a woman. Théodred was not sure if he should feel relieved or angry. The longer he starred at her, the more he wondered how he had so easily been tricked. But he had never been as close to her as he was today and… maybe he would never be again.

Swallowing heavily, he starred at the hole in her chest and at the healer who was still trying his best to safe her, but from the grim look on his face it might be a lost cause.

He could not lose her, not now when he finally saw her. Not when he did not even know her name.

A strong hand gripped his shoulder and squeezed him. Éomer. His cousin stood beside him and mumbled an old saying in Rohirric.

The strong try to best their fear, the faithful have nothing to fear.

Gripping her small, slack hand tighter in his own much bigger one he closed his eyes and started to prey.